Thai cosmetics company pulls ad with slogan: 'You just need to be white to win'

BANGKOK -- A Thai cosmetics company quickly pulled a video in which an actress wears blackface and promotes a skin-whitener with the slogan: "You just need to be white to win.

See Full Article

" The retraction did little, however, to stem a debate the ad ignited about the regularity of racist advertisements in the Southeast Asian country.

The online ad for the new product called "Snowz" featured porcelain-skinned Thai movie star Cris Horwang talking about being an aging actress in a competitive industry.

"If I stopped looking after myself, everything that I have worked for -- all the investment I have made to keep myself white -- would disappear," says the 35-year-old actress. "New stars would replace me, I would fade away."

As she speaks, a smiling, younger woman enters the picture and Cris' own image darkens to charcoal black.

A male voice says, "You just need to be white to win."

A tirade of criticism erupted after the video was launched online Thursday. Online commentators labeled the ad as racist and ignorant, while some heaped criticism on the actress for accepting the job. Others called it a strategic way to attract wide attention and boost sales.

"Ewwwwwww," was the reaction of 28-year-old Jutamas Tritaruyanon, one of many to post their disapproval on Facebook.

"This ad is so obviously racist and another attempt to brainwash Thai women," Jutamas, a Bangkok-based office worker, told AP. "They're saying that being dark is ugly. It's a narrow-minded and disgusting attitude."

The Thai cosmetics company Seoul Secret issued a "heartfelt apology" in a statement Friday saying it had pulled the video clip and related advertisements.

"Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages," the statement posted on its Facebook page said. "What we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills and professionalism is crucial."

The ad is hardly the first to use racial stereotypes in Thailand, where beauty is often characterized as fair and delicate. Darker skin is often associated with rural lower-class Thais, and the country has an enormous industry in skin-whitening products and cosmetic clinics to help customers emulate the porcelain complexions of the Bangkok elite.

TV commercials for skin-whitening products regularly promote the idea that white is beautiful.

In 2013, the Dunkin' Donuts franchise in Thailand used a female model in blackface makeup to promote a chocolate doughnut. The company's CEO in Thailand initially dismissed complaints about racism, but the U.S. parent company quickly apologized and pulled the ad.

An herbal Thai toothpaste says its dark-colored product "is black, but it's good." A longtime Thai brand of household mops and dustpans called "Black Man" uses a logo with a smiling black man in a tuxedo and bow tie.

Associated Press writers Nattasuda Anusonadisai and Jason Corben contributed to this report.


Latest Economic News

  • Trump to 'pause' looming metal tariffs for more countries: Lighthizer

    Economic CBC News
    The European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea are among the nations that will get an initial exemption from looming steel and aluminum tariffs from the Trump administration, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Thursday. Source
  • Why it could take until 2119 to close gender pay gap in U.S.

    Economic CTV News
    When Starbucks announced this week that it has achieved 100 per cent pay equity at its stores in the United States, the company’s statement noted that it could take until 2119 to close the gender pay gap across the entire U.S. Source
  • Trade war averted for now between U.S., Europe

    Economic CTV News
    BERLIN -- The U.S. government said Thursday that the European Union will be among the trading partners that will be spared from an immediate decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the U.S. Source
  • Trade war worries, Facebook shares weigh on global stock markets

    Economic CBC News
    The threat of a global trade war pushed the U.S. dollar to its lowest in over a month on Thursday and dragged benchmark equity indexes in the U.S. and Europe into the red, a day after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates as expected. Source
  • Toys "R" Us trouble forces Dorel to take on bad debt expense

    Economic CBC News
    Quebec-based manufacturer Dorel Industries Inc. has incurred a $4.9-million bad debt expense because of Toys "R" Us winding down its U.S. business and liquidating its inventory. Dorel is also reporting a reduction of about $4 million in net income for both its fourth quarter and year-end financial reprot. Source
  • Tilray signs cannabis supply deal with Pharmasave pharmacy chain

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Licensed marijuana producer Tilray Canada has signed a letter of intent to supply medical cannabis to Pharmasave, a co-operative of more than 650 independently owned pharmacies across Canada. The agreement is subject to changes to Canadian regulations that would allow pharmacies to distribute medical cannabis. Source
  • What to know if you're considering a mortgage from an alternative lender

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- Samantha Brookes has been warning Canadians to take a close look at the clauses in their mortgage contracts for years, but her refrain has become a bit more prevalent in recent months. Since the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions' mortgage stress test was implemented in January, the founder of the Mortgages of Canada brokerage has seen "a huge influx" of Canadians who fail to qualify for a bank mortgage turning to alternative lenders that range from risky loan…
  • South Carolina agency lets employees bring babies to work

    Economic CTV News
    COLUMBIA, S.C. -- One state agency in South Carolina is getting an early start on Bring Your Daughters and Sons to Work Day. The Post and Courier of Charleston reports the South Carolina Department of Insurance announced this week it will allow new parents to bring their infants to work. Source
  • Starbucks to offer equal pay for equal work to women in Canada

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO - Starbucks Corp. is vowing to close the gender wage gap at its Canadian stores. The coffee giant's vice president of partner resources in Canada says it will conduct a thorough national review to ensure it offers equal pay for equal work in every province. Source
  • Trump to punish China on trade as U.S. companies fear backlash

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Farmers, electronics retailers and other U.S. businesses are bracing for a backlash as U.S. President Donald Trump targets China for stealing American technology or pressuring U.S. companies to hand it over. The administration is expected Thursday to slap trade sanctions on China, perhaps including restrictions on Chinese investment and tariffs on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese products. Source